Victory for immigrant New Yorkers as bill blocking ICE from state courthouses becomes law

Victory for immigrant New Yorkers as bill blocking ICE from state courthouses becomes law

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed into law legislation blocking Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents from sweeping up immigrants at the state’s courthouses unless they have a warrant signed by a judge, a victory for families and advocates who have condemned the out-of-control agency’s cruel stalking of immigrants going to court for reasons as minor as a traffic violation.

“For years ICE has intimidated immigrant communities by conducting arrests in state courthouses, and using abusive tactics,” advocacy group Make the Road New York said. “They have aggressively lurked at or around courthouses, arresting immigrants who are showing up for their court appearances. This instilled deep fear in immigrant communities, deterred community members from trying to access the legal system and undermined due process across the state.”

The Protect Our Courts Act, passed by the state’s legislature this past summer, provides “the most protective regulations on ICE courthouse arrests in the country and ensure all New Yorkers—including those accused of crimes, survivors of domestic violence, and witnesses—are afforded due process and provided equal access to our judicial system,” legislators said at the time. 

The mass deportation agency’s actions have in fact been to the benefit of abusers. “In a national survey conducted by the ACLU and the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project of judges, court administrators, attorneys, and law enforcement, more than half of judges surveyed reported that court cases in 2017 were interrupted because of an immigrant domestic violence survivor’s fear of coming to court,” the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) said.

ICE sweeps at state courthouses have been a years-long tactic that the agency escalated in the Trump administration, leading advocates to intensify their efforts to end the practice once and for all.

“ICE cannot be counted on to correct these abuses itself,” NYCLU continued. “Advocates have for years called on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to add courthouses to its list of sensitive locations where ICE cannot make arrests absent exigent circumstances, but the agency has not done so,” and against the advice of dozens of retired judges.

This legislation now takes direct action to limit ICE’s abuses, codifying into law a court ruling from earlier this year calling ICE’s sweeps “illegal.” New York Attorney General Letitia James said at the time that “[b]y allowing federal agents to interfere with state and local cases, the Trump administration endangered the safety of every New Yorker, while targeting immigrants.”

“Today New York state made sure that our courthouses aren’t a target for ICE’s deportation machine, and sent a message that New York protects its immigrant families,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “ICE’s malicious practice of arresting people at courthouses was just one cruel part of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant crusade. With this law in place, immigrant communities will be more able to seek justice and defend their rights without fear of profiling and arrest.”


From Daily Kos at Read More. This article is republished from DailyKos under an open content license. Read the original article at DailyKos.

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